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Re: Snow conditions in the Sierra

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Snow conditions in the Sierra
March 18, 2015 08:51AM
If you've been reading the news, you know that the snowpack in some parts of the Sierra is 5% of normal. That's a disaster.

It's so dry that we're seriously considering taking a few backpacking trips this spring that head up into the Sierra high country. Normally, we're not excited about sleeping on snow, spending ten hours of darkness in our tent, or slipping and sliding over ice and mush for much of the day.

But this year, those seems like high class problems. There is no snow in the Sierra, particularly if you head further south. We called four different ranger stations in the last twenty-four hours to discuss the conditions on the trails in their area. Here's what we learned:

Beasore Road out of Bass Lake in the Sierra National Forest is open and clear all way to Globe Rock. The side roads to the various trailheads in that region may also be clear, but nobody from the USFS has bothered to drive them yet. This road generally doesn't open up until late May or June. It's March. Snow levels are at about 8500 feet or so. They suggested that hikers might be more worried about mud than snow.

On the East side, many roads and trailheads are open in the Hoover Wilderness. Snow begins at about 8,000 to 8,500 feet, and doesn't really get to full coverage until about 9,000 feet. Kirman Lake, Buckeye Canyon, and most of those East side trailheads are at least open.

Emigrant Wilderness snows levels are lower, down to about 7,500 feet, so the roads and trailheads are not open. 108 is closed at the snow park 7 miles past Dodge Ridge. Crabtree Road is closed at Dodge Ridge.

Donner Pass snow level in the Tahoe NF is much lower, down to 6,500 feet or so. If you want to hike this area, you'll be hiking on snow.

Of course, all of this could change if we were blessed with a couple of massive snowstorms...that don't seem to be on the horizon.


follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Re: Snow conditions in the Sierra
March 18, 2015 08:30PM
The length of the day now is about what it will be in late September--plenty of daylight! However, despite it being winter, temperatures are running much warmer than typical late Sept-Oct--I don't think we saw freezing the last few weekends we were out. Unfortunately, at mid elevations water availability is also about what you'd expect for late September--if it's not a major river, lake, or creek, don't count on it.

For those itching to get into the high country, I offer this one data point--Olmsted Point, March 14, 2015:

By way of comparison, Olmsted Point, April 29, 2012--also a dry year:

In normal years one of the things that keeps the Tioga Road from opening is the risk of avalanches at Olmsted Point.

As of now, not an issue at all... Who has April 17 at noon? :-)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2015 11:37AM by basilbop.
Re: Snow conditions in the Sierra
March 19, 2015 08:49AM
First photo is 2015? not 2014?

So when do they open the road...?


follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Re: Snow conditions in the Sierra
March 19, 2015 09:56AM
It's a typo. Pic is from 2015, not 2014. He can't get to it to fix yet. Sorry!

Did not see official opening date yet... Just vague/generic "plowing starts around April 15".

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2015 09:58AM by JustKeepWalking.
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